Fundraiser tackles heart health, honors community members

Hearts were in the right place at the Seventh Annual “Protecting One Heart at a Time” memorial dinner and fundraiser at LiGreci’s Staaten in Staten Island.

Held in memory of Frank J. Reali III, who died of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) at the age of 36, the event, held on Monday, October 19, honored seven outstanding community members with the “Heart of a Champion” award.

This year’s recipients included this paper’s own Co-Publisher Victoria Schneps; Keith Cummings, owner of KCM Plumbing & Heating Corp., Assemblymember Michael Cusick; Joseph Delaney, director of Notre Dame Club’s Bread of Life Food Drive; Anthony Ferreri, executive vice president and chief affiliation officer for North Shore LIJ Health System; Brian Lalin, executive editor at the Staten Island Advance; and Dr. Gracelyn Santos, DDS, columnist for the Staten Island Advance.

This year’s “Junior Heart of a Champion” award recipient was Rowan Fossella, advocate for Juvenile Diabetes.

“There were 350 gift baskets at the event,” explained Lori Pedone, event attendee and The Home Reporter’s vice president of events for Brooklyn and Staten Island. “I have been to a million fundraisers, and I have never seen 350 baskets. Donations poured in from all over the place to help support this event.”

Fran and Frank Reali, event chairs and advocates for the awareness of SCD, have two main goals for this fundraiser each year: to provide supportive funds for echocardiograms and EKGs for incoming freshman, and to educate and promote heart healthy lifestyles in children and young adults.

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